Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Laura Bennett Episode on iVillage

Click for Case Clothed, Episode 2 - "The Troublesome Tote" (doesn't the phone look just like the Barbie Princess phone from the 60's? Double bonus points for me as a 7-year old kid keeping it intact and as a 40-something who kept it along with other Barbie outfits...purchased by an indulgent aunt, who I really think wanted the stuff for herself) There's even a special cameo appearance of Frank the turtle.

All You Need is Love

And a charm pack package of 32 5" x 5" squares of Deb Strain designs for Moda Fabrics. They are all different - reds, pinks - natch, but also lime green and chocolate brown. Yummy! I found these for $10 at Quilter's Emporium

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


AlterNation - Transform. Embellish. Customize by Shannon Okey and Alexandra Underhill 2007 ISBN: 978-1-58180-978-7, Library Call No. 646.204 Paperback, 143 pages, $19.99 list price.

First of all, cute title! Secondly, I like the price point under $20 - so many new books, even paperbacks, are clocking in at a $25+ nowadays. This is a fun book, with 25 ideas beyond the usual expected DIY embellishments. While obviously geared towards Generation Y and X'rs, there are some neat tricks grabbing my attention. Working more with grommets for starters. I've got tons of packages in different sizes and colors bought on clearance and their projects made me look at my pending plans with a "hmmm - I could use these on those." One project in particular caught my eye - the Tentacle jacket on page 55. Despite best attempts to keep my sweaters from stretching out of shape, this technique could help bring them back to wearable. I think this would be a great book to inspire a new generation of creative people. While not all strictly sewing (there's painting and embellishing, too), it's a good jump-off point for them to get going. And with the economy and environment at the forefront of our attention - the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra is very applicable to this book. Save money, have fun.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Yippee Yi Yo - PiYo!

No, not "PiYo PiYo" --
Which is what I found when I Google'd "Pi Yo". It's a combo class of Pilates and Yoga, emphasizing core (abdominal) workouts. Yikes, what have I gotten myself into now? Quack.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The story of Chocolate Cream Delight

Today was a 2-fer in the kitchen with the October/November issue of Light and Tasty! Part II was the Chocolate Cream Delight on page 19. (Click for the recipe)
OK, for starters -- trying to find the ingredients. Once upon a time, I remember seeing chocolate cookie crumbs in the baking section. No more - at least the three grocery stores I went to! Ditto for trying to find plain chocolate cookies in the cookie aisle. So I planned to make my Hershey Chocolate Crumb Crust, check the recipe and I'm out of graham cracker crumbs. No problem, I'll use the chocolate graham crackers in the pantry, how brilliant am I? But T and L bought the store brand ones on one of their adventures and yikes, 1 gram of trans fat per two crackers?! No way, so I took off for the third grocery store and bought the Honey Graham Chocolate Sticks (low fat and no trans). Cuisinart'ed a cup, melted 2 tablespoons of butter and skipped adding the extra sugar. But wait, there's still more obstacles -- I couldn't find the 1.3 ounce size sugar-free cook and serve chocolate pudding the recipe called for. In fact, I only found it in the 5 ounce, 6 cup size at the second grocery store, but by that point I had already bought the regular Jello pudding 5 oz/6 cup at grocery store #1 since they didn't have the sugar-free version. And I also took a leap of kitchen faith thinking if the pan is 8" square, the 6 cup portion size should be OK. But then on that box, it called for 3 cups of milk. The recipe said 3 1/2 cups. At this point, I thought this dessert is already off the track and I'm sticking with what the box says. More oddities? Yes! The cream cheese. Recipe called for 3 ounces, I have an 8 ounce box. No problem, get out my little scale, weigh and give myself an extra dab for all this trouble so far! Layer this all in the pan, sprinkle a few extra bits of the graham crackers and let it and me chill. I declined to smear Cool Whip (er, "reduced fat whipped topping") on the top. (Suffice to say, I grew up when Cool Whip was first introduced. That stuff got glopped and plopped onto everything from pudding to pies to cakes to jello parfaits. And what was really an affront to nature and all which is called dessert, when someone tinted it with food coloring for cake "frosting"! Shudder! )

Ultimately, what a pain in the butt to shop for and make. It tasted pretty good and we all liked the chocolate cream cheese layer. My grade: C-/Make every once in awhile, maybe. Once a healing and sufficient amount of time has passed.

Pumpkin Corn Soup

Did you stock up on the after the holidays 25 cent sale cans of Libby's Pumpkin, too? Here's a different, savory use for canned pumpkin. From the October/November 2007 issue of Light and Tasty, page 50. My changes/substitutions are in italics. I thought it was a nice twist on a vegetable soup. Grade: B+/I'll make it again (no one else in my family will touch this, so I hope it freezes well!)


1 large onion, chopped...1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped...2 tablespoons olive oil...1 11 ounce can Green Giant Niblets corn...2 minced garlic cloves...1 teaspoon Penzeys Chili Powder...1 teaspoon Penzeys Chili Con Carne...32 ounces vegetable broth, made with 1 tablepoon of Penzeys Vegetable Soup Base + 32 ounces water...1 15 ounce can pumpkin...dash cayenne pepper...1/2 teaspoon salt...(omitted: 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped, 2 tablespoons lime juice) (substituted for 2 tablespoons butter, 2 cups fresh or frozen/thawed corn, 2 14.5 ounce cans vegetable broth, 2 teaspoons chili powder)

In medium/large pot, saute onion and red pepper in oil until almost tender. Add the corn, garlic and chili powder, saute 2 minutes longer. Stir in broth, pumpkin, salt and cayenne until blended. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. 7 servings.


Update April 23, 2009 -- I've made it it serveral times since, and instead of a can of corn, in this version I used 2 cups of Costco's frozen organic mixed vegetables (corn, green beans, peas and carrots). A very tasty substitute combination!

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Cascada, "Miracle" 3:38
Everytime We Touch

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Go Red - February 1

While you are planning this week's wardrobe, don't forget to wear something red on Friday, February 1 and support the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women/Love Your Heart campaign!
Update 1-28-08: Macy's, a proud national sponsor of Go Red For Women, will help celebrate the AHA's Go Red campaign's fifth anniversary. On Friday, February 1, Macy's will offer an all-day savings pass for customers wearing red. For those who forget their red, Macy's is offering an all-day savings pass to those who make a $2 donation in the store to the American Heart Association. All contributions received will benefit the Go Red For Women movement. Learn more about Macy's support of Go Red.
(Thanks, Juanita!)

I'll take (eat) one of each

I can't decide which one I like better. But because they are so chocolaty-yummy, 1 square of each should set you right with the world again. It doesn't matter which one you eat first! My chocolate enablers, T and L, found these at Walgreens. They are about $3-$4 per bag of about 12 pieces...and usually on sale for $3. I'm on the lookout at Costco for them.

Hershey's Whole Bean: 40% less sugar, 7g of fiber! And they consider a serving 4 pieces!? So just divide these numbers by four when a little chocolate fix will do ya. Calories 200, total fat 13g, saturated fat 8g, cholesterol 10mg, sodium 45mg, total carb 20g, sugars 13g, protein 4g. Vitamin A 2%, Calcium 25%, Iron 4%.

Hershey's Natural Flavanol Antioxidant Milk Chocolate: More flavanol antioxidants than the leading dark chocolate. I don't know what a flavanol is, but it sure tastes good! Here's the details for these, again for a 4 piece serving. Calories 190, total fat 12g, saturated fat 7g, cholesterol 10mg, sodium 30mg, total carb 23g, dietary fiber 1g, sugars 21g, protein 3g. Calcium 8%, Iron 6%

Friday, January 25, 2008

Make a(nother) run for the fabric

OK, now TWO episodes of having to make a mad dash across dirt/grass and now dirty warehouse floors? I think future contestants will pack running shoes to wear for outside Parsons field trips.

I was split 50/50 on the judges' decision. . . Victorya definitely short-cutted her way to the auf.

But I loved Sweet P's dress - I think it would have been a very marketable garment for Levi and should have won.

I also liked Chris' dress and the trim detail. I've seen raw edges in stores before...what was the big deal? It wasn't an unfinished hem.

Rami copied Jeffrey Sebelia's zipper trim idea, and that didn't ring a bell with Michael/Heidi/Nina? I didn't like the placement/outline on the center front of the skirt.
Jillilan's behavior is getting tiresome, literally. And two coats back-to-back?
I didn't like Christian's -- too scrawny. It's further proof designers design for themselves.

Ricky's was good, you must agree the rivet/button-fly closure was a creative closure. But the win? Most likely a bone toss to keep him around another episode to be auf'd later in case of a stumble by a designer already predestined for Bryant Park.

Honey Peanut Butter Muffins

An oldie, but (updated) goodie! This is from the September 1981 issue of Self magazine. I thought I lost the recipe years ago. In vain I wrote to Self, checked the Internet, nothing. I found "almost" recipes, but none that called for whole wheat and chunky peanut butter, the only stand-out ingredients I could remember. The article by Abby Avin Belson was titled "Breakfast Success" focusing on powering up muffins with whole grains, milk and extra protein. And just by chance yesterday when I was sorting through old cookbooks, there it was - a Xeroxed page.

This was the original recipe -- 2 cups whole wheat flour...1 tablespoon baking flour...1 cup 2% milk...3/4 cup chunky peanut butter...2 large eggs lightly beaten...2 tablespoons honey...1 tablespoon molasses. I remembered how heavy these were, but that could have been attributed to a very young-20 something/living on my own kitchen experience.
So this morning I tried to lighten it up a little using skim milk instead of 2% and 1 whole egg and 1 egg white. And I loved how they turned out. Definitely lighter tasting and looked more like muffins instead of lumps. I also reduced the heat from 400 to 375 and baked for 12 minutes instead of 15-20 minutes. I also had enough batter to make 12 instead of 9, thereby reducing that original 271 calorie per muffin number further. Out of the oven warm with a little touch of butter, delish! When cooled, try a little grape jelly for a new style PBJ. They also freeze well.
I also used Peter Pan Crunchy Peanut Butter - it had the lowest sodium of the other national and store brands. If you can find an organic crunchy, even better for you.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

The Rolling Stones, "She Was Hot" 4:41

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I (Heart) Geek Squad!

My house is now wireless Wi-Fi'd, thanks to Geek Squad and a satellite! Each step along the way with Geek Squad was professional, courteous, timely, reasonably priced and top-notch! I called their 800 number yesterday morning, and they could have even sent someone out that day. But I went with this morning at a time of 9:15. 9:15? Sure enough, the Geek VW Bug showed up at 9:10! (Unlike others who have tried to find our house, get lost and call saying "I'm next to a railroad track, a bayou and a Citgo station!" Um-you are two towns away in a different county, the "bayou" is a ditch, and you are going to fix my dryer?!). But I digress. My Geek Guy installed the router and fixed our printer connection, drivers, whatever, too! I am super happy pleased with the result and Geek Squad.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Vogue Sandra Betzina patterns!

1033 - Shirt... 1036 - Jacket...1034 - Jeans...
Hmmm....sure wish I could see Sandra's versions! Most likely way cooler than Vogue's photos and drawings.

For Any Soldier

Take a look at this site to get ideas and names to send goodies (and apparently, necessities) to our soldiers. . .

Hershey Chocolate 100 Calorie bars - York and Reese's edition

Found at Target and Randalls for $2.99-$3.50 a box. To be honest, I had not high hopes for these guys. Previous incarnations of junk food favorites were not so great. But surprise! The Hershey Company is looking out for us. First, there are two skinny Twix-sized sticks in a package, about 3 1/2" by 1/2". Looking at the box, I thought it would be one bar. Second, these taste yummy! I like the crunch and the chocolate of course. Both tastes are amped up - you'll really taste the peanut butter and the peppermint tingle. Third, one package should do ya. It's an appetite killer, I have no desire even as I'm typing this to rip open another package. Fourth, you get seven packs per box. No stinginess here.

Ready for the math? It's not really that bad, and no trans fats!
York: 6g total fat, 4g saturated, 10mg sodium, 11g total carbohydrate, 9g sugars, <1g fiber
Reese's: 6g total fat, 2.5g saturated, 50mg sodium, 11g total carbohydrate, 8g sugars, 2g protein, 0g fiber.

Is this a health bar? No, it tastes too good. But if you need to spend 100 calories to keep you from diving into something worse and doing further damage to your healthy living plan, they are calories well spent.

P.S. Have you noticed York's new tagline? York-Be Sensational!

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Tom Petty, "The Apartment Song" 2:32
Full Moon Fever

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Time to get crockin'

I joined a crockpot challenge group. (I know, you are thinking is this girl tag-hungry or what?!) But if I can do my part to keep the crockpots out of landfills, I'm game. Go to this link for more details.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Burda 7991 - Young Fashion Teen Pants

If you loved sewing for your baby girl, oh say to about age 10 if you were lucky and then despaired when she decided she didn't want clothes by mom anymore...take heart, you and your machine will be called to duty again. Burda 7991 has the style of RTW and the fit for normal-sized teens. And economical, too - View B takes 2 1/4 yards or less for either width. We found this fabric marked down to $2 in the Jo-Ann's markdown shelves. L wanted to add some color and chose a lavendar (Coats "Laurel") zipper, purple button and red lip buttons for pocket embellishment, forgoing the snaps this go-round. Everything sewed and matched together smoothly, the back yoke, the pockets, the pleats, even the leg flap pockets stay in place. The waistband hits just above the hipbone. Just right for teens. (Probably not a good look if you are a mom-ager unless you snapped right back into place after giving birth or star in Real Wives of Orange County or something like that.) And loads of fun topstitching opportunities.

Great fit + great style details = a great pair of pants! L is looking forward to the longer view in khaki for volunteering this summer, probably a denim version is on the horizon, too.

How to Fly Guide

Just in case you didn't know it, the zipper packaging has a fly front sewing template when opened. If you have a hard time eyeballing the curve while sewing or chalking, this will give you the RTW look of fly zippers. (Along with Sandra Betzina's guide to fly front zippers from her Power Sewing book and video.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Netflix Stars - Wimbledon

I don't know why it took so long for us to get around to watching this movie, but don't you make the same mistake. Charming, entertaining, bonus if you like tennis. Again, we loved the DVD's special features. Rated PG-13, nothing really to flinch at, tastefully done. 4.5/5.0 stars

Cooking Light at Costco

The Cooking Light square books have returned -- I picked up Weeknight. Same price as the others, $10.99. And if you go by the magazine rack, you'll find Best of Cooking Light 9, saving a cool 30% off the grocery store checkout rack price.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hello Kitty, Hello Insanity

I told myself if I found it (again), it was meant to only $24.98 (original price $99.99), how could I afford not to? My regular Super Target had a couple last month and I passed because it was priced $49.99. But I did paws for a brief moment and then moved on. The next time I was there, they were gone! Yesterday, I found one in the box marked down to $24.98 and one out of the box missing just about everything - including the needle!...(what kind of sickos deface a sewing machine?!) - for $17.28. I went home, thought about it and decided to go back for the boxed one. Alas it found a home with someone else in less than 2 hours. L and I drove to another Super Target 5 miles away. Nada, zip. Today we were in a different part of town and we do a quick check - Whoops there it is! One by itself. In the sealed box! Along with three packages of bobbins marked down to 23 cents. In the cart they go. I'll give it a twirl later tonight. It's always good to have a back-up for my back-up and a light-weight machine for when my 100x more expensive machine is being serviced or when traveling. Or even for L when she goes off to college. Target still has them available online, but at the full price. So go check those endcaps and if you see it and want it, grab it. Second chances don't usually happen, but destiny does.

Lightened Rice Pudding from Everyday Food January/February 2008 #49

Page 148, "Lightened Rice Pudding" from the current issue of Everyday Food, Issue #49 January/February 2008. I attempted to cut it down by a third because the recipe says it "serves 8" and it called for 6 cups of milk. Since I'm the only one who will probably like and eat it around here, I don't want to be staring at a big bowlful of it everytime I open the fridge and lamenting the almost empty milk carton as a result.

It turned out great! Kind of chai-y because I used both a sprinkle of cardamon and cinnamon (which is what I figured was 1/3 of 1/4 teaspoon) and a splash of vanilla. By cutting down the ingredients by a third, I divided the 2 cups of milk into 1 2/3 cup milk for step one and 1/3 cup milk in step two. And it made plenty, a little goes a long way to fill you up. Grade: B+/I'll make it again

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mid-January's Target Dollar Spot Finds

Red Target "Green Bag"...pretty color combination scrapbooking paper...silver glitter sticker letters (also comes in other type fonts and colors - gold, pink, red) - only 1 upper/lower case letter, except for "o" so you may want to get more than one package, depending what you are trying to spell!

$4.98 flannel sheets/PJ's at Target

While I was working on L's Burda 7991 pants, I was listening to the Material Mama Podcasts #14 and #15 from last year about this time -- and she mentioned in one of them about finding flannel sheets at Target in the clearance section to make PJ's, sleep pants, etc. So yesterday when I was in Target I checked and found these marked down to $4.98 from $19.99. And she's right, all sizes from Twin to Queen are $4.98. Take a look at the clearance endcaps at your Target. There were still lots of colors and cute designs left.

Congratulations, English Bulldog!

The Captain at the ranch, circa 1985

For finally cracking the American Kennel Club's Top 10 list of most popular dogs in the USA after an absence of more than 70 years! My husband, a former Marine, and his family have always had a soft spot for the bully, with snow white Matilda and tan and white Captain. Bulldogs have always been an underground favorite - remember The Captain and Tennille "Love Will Keep Us Together" album back posing with their two bulldogs, Broderick and Elizabeth? The current "Rob and Big" show featuring Meaty? And of course, the USMC's Chesty. With average prices in Houston ranging from $1,600 - $2,200; why not check out The Lone Star Bulldog Rescue site and adopt for one less than 1/3 the going rate?

Project Snoozeway

Yes, about 40 minutes into the show I fell asleep, only to be awakened by T and L during the runway part. Probably another Rami's "Look, I can drape!" dress put me under. With pants yet?! And his bitch-ass attitude with sweet Sweet Pea... Rami, you are turning into a mean one-note, and I'm really not so fond of you anymore. More later when I catch the repeat.

Yesterday's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Stray Cats, "Rock This Town" 3:26
America's Top Ten Hits The 80's

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rumor has it...

...Project Runway tonight will be another team episode. Dang, I hate those!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Good website to find free Wi-Fi hotspots

I found this website in the January/February Blueprint issue #8 on page 113. I also heard this is the last issue of Blueprint. Grab it at Costco for 30% off while you still can.

Update on Burda 7991

The muslin/trial run went together like a dream yesterday, though L did not expect nor was prepared for the fit. "Yikes!" she said. Looks like I'll have to gradually transition her to the famous Burda fit by adding just a little bit more allowance to the seams for this first pair.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Red Rider, "Lunatic Fringe" 4:20

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What I'm working on - Burda 7991

L picked out this pattern...we are making View B (pink in the link) the shorter capri length. She loved the pocket details and found some great buttons to embellish the pockets.

Everyday Food #47 - Mini Ham and Cheese Quiches

These were cute and tasty, too. I couldn't find shredded or even solid white cheddar after going to two stores, so I subbed swiss cheese. Then I forgot to get the heavy cream and used some whole milk I had leftover from another recipe instead. Neither did I have a 2" round cookie cutter, I used a 2 1/2" diameter juice glass - which made for a little fluted edge trying to fit into the mini muffin pan. It was a little labor and time intensive to make, but would be fun for sleepovers or brunch parties. I also think using slightly stale bread will help separate the cut bread circles easier-argh! Refrigerate the leftovers, they taste great the next morning after nuking in the microwave about 15 seconds.


2 tablespoons butter, melted...12 slices white sandwich bread...1 large egg slightly beaten...1/4 cup diced cookied ham...1/4 cup shreadded white cheddar (or swiss)...1/4 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)...salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350, brush a 24-cup mini muffin pan with 1 tablespoon of butter, set aside. Stack two slices of bread on a work surface; using a rolling pin, flatten to an 1/8" thickness. With a 2" round cutter, cut 2 rounds from stack; separate to yield 4 bread rounds. Repeat with remaining bread to make 24. Fit rounds into prepared muffin cups, be careful not to tear. Brush bread with remaining tablespoon butter. Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes (don't overbake or the result will be crunchy quiche!). Cool in pan to room temperature, leave oven on. In medium bowl stir together egg, ham, cheese, cream/milk, salt and pepper. Spoon 1 teaspoon of egg mixture into each bread cup. Bake until filling is set, 13-15 minutes.

From Everyday Food, Issue #47 - November 2007, page 68

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I'm Reed Fish

4.5/5 stars! What a nice/quirky a la "Waitress"-type independent film! While it didn't play here in Texas -- (I think maybe only in NYC, though there was a reference to UT), this was definitely not the straight-to-dvd dreck. Netflix recommended it for me because of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, Elizabethtown, Freaks and Geeks, et al movies I rated 4-5 stars. I loved seeing the pretty-big/pretty-well known names -- Alexis Bledel, Jay Baruchel, Katey Sagal, Schuyler Fisk (a spitting image of her mom, Sissy Spacek), Chris Parnell... Fun plot twists and turns, you truly won't be able to guess ahead for the ending. Add it to your queue, too.

Yesterday's Favorite iPod Workout Song

The Freestylers, "The Weekend Song" 3:58
Sweet Home Alabama Soundtrack
Excellent movie soundtrack, BTW.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Shall we dance?

Sweet P or Chris should have won over Victorya's monstrosity in blue.
And I won't even sully my blog with Ricky's dress. He should have been auf'd, though Kevin would have been a close second. Loved seeing some of the designer's prom photos though!

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Bee Gees, "Jive Talking" 3:46

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

So far, so good! Everyday Food Issue #49

The January/February issue is 2 for 2! Tonight I tried the Light Turkey Meatballs and the Light Chocolate Chunk Brownies... with a couple changes. After browning the meatballs, I put them in my crockpot on Low for 4 hours with a can of tomato sauce and a little sprinkle of Penzeys Pasta Sprinkle to finish cooking. So yummy and tender, you couldn't even tell they were low fat, healthier and not made of ground beef. I froze the leftovers for meatball subs or another spaghetti and meatball dinner later. The brownies were more cake-like than fudgey, but still good. I liked using the bittersweet chocolate (HEB just got in the Nestle Chocolatier bar, which was cheaper and thinner than Baker's Chocolate. I thought would be easier to melt and chop. It was!) I also sprinkled a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top for good luck. I wasn't too thrilled using parchment paper to line the pan, as it bunched up in the corners. While it made clean up easier, I had to put the leftovers in another container instead of using the baking dish. Next time I'll trim two sides to turn the parchment into a rectangle instead of a square. I'll definitely be making these again, too!

Ginger Snap Cookies

Back in the day when I was gainfully employed, a fellow co-worker made the best-ever ginger snap cookies -- spicy, sugary, crisp and chewy all at once. While I was pregnant, she'd even bake a batch for me, but alas, I never got the recipe. It has been my mission for almost 16 years to find it. I discovered many pretty good/pretty close recipes along the way, but not "the one" ...Until I was at the library in the cooking section last weekend and found "The Weekend Baker" by Abigail Johnson Dodge with the cookies on the cover! They looked just like Libby's! I flipped to page 136 and saw the ingredient list for "Ginger Crackles" was slightly different than all the others I tried previously. I went home and started baking and I think these are them. I made it using the measuring cups -- the author is a big believer in using the scales for measuring. Next time I'll try it that way. I know back when Burda WOF used to have recipes and the ingredients were listed by weight, my German friend said that was the way she and her mom always baked.


2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (2 ounces) vegetable shortening
1 cup (8 ounces) sugar, plus 2/3 cup (5 1/4 ounces) for rolling
1 large egg
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) light molasses

Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment or non-stick baking liners. In a large bowl, combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Whisk until well blended. In another large bowl, combine the butter, shortening and 1 cup sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium high speed until well combined. Add the egg and molasses and beat until well blended. Pour in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until well blended. Pour the remaining 2/3 cup sugar into a shallow bowl. Shape the dough into 1" balls. Roll each ball in the sugar and set 2" apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake one sheet at a time until puffed and lightly browned around the edges, about 13 minutes. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, lift the cookies from the sheet onto a rack and let cool completely.

The book is well-organized and easy to follow. I like how the author presents many of the recipes with do-ahead sections. Such as for this recipe she says:

The dough can be made, shaped and balls coated with sugar and then frozen for up to 2 months before baking. For best results, position the shaped dough snugly on a small cookie sheet and freeze until very firm. Then pile the frozen balls into a heavy-duty freezer bag and store in the freezer. When you're ready to bake, remove only the number of cookies you need, place on prepared cookie sheet and leave them on the counter while the oven heats up.

The Weekend Baker, Abigail Johnson Dodge, 2005, ISBN: 0-393-05883-2, Library Call No. 641.815 Publisher's list price $30

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Planters Daybreak Blend-Updated!

Sounds like coffee! Actually a healthy snack. But good luck finding it, it's not in the usual suspect areas of breakfast items, snacks or bars -- L found this in the nut section. While I can't fathom this as a portable breakfast substitute as Planters/Kraft is trying to promote, it's not a bad stifler of "I've got the hungries" when away from home. So I keep a pack in my purse and then try to brush the crumbs off me and the car afterwards. Who knew little bits of oats could be so clingy? While, yes a little pricey at $2.99 for 5 1.5 oz. pouches, they are filling and you get a lot really. Almonds, pecans, rolled oats/granola clusters, dried apples, dried cranberries, dried bananas. 200 calories, total fat 10g (sat 1g/poly 3g/mono 6g), cholesterol 0g, sodium 70g, potassium 24g, fiber 3g, sugars 13g, protein 4g. Daily values -- Calcium 4%, Manganese 20% and Iron 60%

---------- Update 3-20-08

This flavor is my new favorite, "Berry Almond Trail" I skipped over it the first time because I saw the word -berry- and I'm allergic to strawberries. Most of the time "berry" = "strawberry" but not in this case You get granola clusters, cranberries, almonds, golden raisins, bananas, etc. Not that much different, swapping out the apples and a few less calories and fat somehow. 180 calories, total fat 7g (sat .5g/poly 2g/mono 4.5g), 0 cholesterol, sodium 55mg, potassium 190mg, fiber 3g, sugars 19g.

Yesterday's and Today's Favorite iPod Workout Songs

Squeeze, "Hourglass" 3:19
Timbuk 3, "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" 3:23

Friday, January 04, 2008

I Want Candy!

OK, raise your hand if any of you did not start jonesing/eating chocolate before this episode ended? (It took me 35 minutes before I went and popped two Lindt truffles) And lamented over the carelessly tossed naked Reese peanut butter cups in the garbage can next to Christian? I think this was the best episode yet of the season. While Rami's outfit ultimately won, I also liked Kit-Kat Kit's (and the model's hair looking like a Hershey's Kiss!) and Chris', too. I had a feeling this could have been the last show for Elisa, with the foretelling back story about her accident and rebuilt life. And with Victorya's attitude, eye rolling, pouty face and dreck of a dress - she should have been auf'd. As the show progresses, the less I like her.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Frosted Flakes

Me: Wake up, L! I made muffins! L: Oooh, the Coffee Cake Muffins?! Me: Nooo, the Raisin Bran Muffins! L: Why? Where's the love? Me: I frosted them! And besides, the raisin bran is Costco's gi-normous Organic Raisin Bran and it's set to expire the end of March. If we all get right with ourselves and insides, we'll get through it together. (Well, the little bit of confectioner's sugar and milk did help.) From the January/February 2007 Issue #39

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups raisin bran cereal
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
Preheat oven to 400. In medium bowl combine cereal with milk; let stand until softened about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir oil, egg and sugar into cereal mixture. Fold in flour mixture. Divide batter into cups.
The recipe says it makes 6, but I filled 10 cups. They also baked a lot more quickly - 12-14 minutes v. 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Objects in the photo are tastier than they appear

No comparison to the photo, yet when I photographed it, my flash, as probably also theirs, made it look a lot lighter. This looks...dingy! Must be the balsamic vinegar. Even the bowl took on a tobacco-like hue. Oh well, surprisingly it tastes pretty good! Though I don't think I'll be taking it to any potlucks, it just doesn't look that pretty. Let's see how it goes over tonight. From the August/September 2006 (can you tell I was organizing my piles of magazines like a good New Year's resoluter yesterday?) Light & Tasty magazine.


8 oz. uncooked tricolor spiral pasta (about 3 cups)...3 small tomatoes chopped...1 cup each red bell pepper, zucchini and carrots chopped...3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar...2 teaspoons dried basil...2 tablespoons olive oil...1 tablespoon sugar...1 teaspoon dried oregano...2 minced garlic cloves...1 teaspoon salt...1/8 teaspoon pepper...1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Cook pasta according to package directions. In large bowl, combine the vegetables, vinegar, basil, oil, sugar, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Drain pasta and rinse in cold water, stir into vegetable mixture. Add parm cheese, toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Serving size 1 cup, 10 servings.

108 calories, 5g fat (1g sat), 4mg cholesterol, 352mg sodium, 13g carb, 2g fiber, 4g protein

--- You can also add 1 cup sliced green onions, 1 cup chopped celery and use fresh instead of dried basil and oregano, 2 and 1 tablespoons respectively. Obviously this is a summer garden bounty recipe. But when it is 32 degrees outside (!) and the HEB was not heated (!!!), I grabbed and got the heck out of there. Mind, celery and onions were MIA. I also didn't use as much salt, pepper or sugar.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

So much for resolutions

When Goode Co. BBQ is open on New Year's Day! I take all my out-of-towners here. And what do they still talk about years later? My sewing skills? My cookies? Noooo! "That BBQ place you took us to!" My favorite combo? The sliced BBQ sandwich on two slices of jalapeno cheese bread, with two ladles of sauce - one on top of the meat, the other on top of the sandwich, potato salad, iced tea, and a piece of Brazos Bottom Pecan Pie. Though I usually end up taking the pie home to eat and fall into a coma on the couch later. (For you out-of-towners, you can order a whole pie and have it shipped to you. Yes, it is that good and famous!)

Netflix Stars - Stardust

5 stars for Stardust! Rated PG-13, it's a movie you can all watch and not have to avert the eyes. L said it was a very good adaption of the book by author Neil Gaimon, and Tristan (Charlie Cox) was well-cast. Also stars Claire Danes, Sienna Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett and Robert De Niro (!) Beautiful scenery, too.